Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to make amends with rural Colorado

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John Hickenlooper

— In the past week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed remorse for his frayed relationships with rural Colorado.

In light of the secession movement, in which 11 counties want to secede from the state, he suggested he hasn’t been doing everything he can to bring all voices to the table.

At a town hall meeting Oct. 23 in Greeley, Hickenlooper promised to visit Weld County, the county that launched the state secession movement, more often, reported the Greeley Tribune. The Capitol could have been unreceptive to discussions and concerns brought up by rural Colorado, he said.

“If that many people feel that we didn’t pay attention, then shame on us,” he said to the Greeley Tribune. “Maybe we didn’t pay attention.”

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid has been a leading voice of the secession movement in the Moffat County. He said the governor and Front Range politicians must have been oblivious not to realize they hadn’t been paying attention.

“I don’t know how they could have missed it. We were right there,” he said.

Hickenlooper stood by the controversial legislation he signed, such as Senate Bill 252, but said it was his responsibility to listen to different ideas and explain the legislation better.

Yet Kinkaid said that’s not what’s missing. Rural Colorado already knew what the legislation meant, he said.

“We don’t need a better explanation of the legislation,” he said. “We need better legislation.”

Rural Colorado and guns rights advocates were present during the SB 252 hearings, but Front Range politicians were not receptive, Kinkaid said.

“The hearing room and the overflow room were packed,” he said. “Listening better wasn’t going to change (Hickenlooper’s) mind.”

Hickenlooper reiterated his regret about his strained relationship with rural Colorado in a Friday interview with Colorado Public Radio. He said he thought the Capitol had been effective in its effort to bring rural Colorado to the table.

“I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it, to be honest,” he said to the news radio station. “I guess we weren’t.”

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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